There is an important story that will not appear in The Question this week. You will not read it because it was not written. It was not written because the women we hoped to feature declined to share their story. We accept this without reservation and wish them only well. Unfortunately, recent news out of UBC has turned our attention back to the subject of violence against women, and we felt a few words in this space were necessary.
Our goal with the original story was to illustrate to our readers the importance of the fourth annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event, scheduled for this Sunday afternoon (Sept. 15).
The walk is part of an international movement aimed at starting discussions on sexual assault and gender violence by having men literally walk a mile in a pair of women’s shoes.
The men collect pledges that are directly channelled into resources immediately addressing violence against women at the Howe Sound Women’s Centre-run Whistler Women’s Centre.
This event never passes without a high degree of media coverage, as a gang of grown men lumbering down Village Stroll in size-12 red stilettos is, quite shamefully, an irresistible photo op.
In years past, only a couple dozen men participated in Whistler. This year, the HSWC is hoping for 50, but will optimistically keep 100 pairs of shoes at the ready.
It’s easy to find the amusement in this spectacle, and there’s no shame in using the good of the human spirit to strike down violence, but the purpose of the walk can get lost in the moment. And that’s why we wanted to show you the reason for it through a story told by a victim of violence, but instead allow us to turn your attention to the UBC Frosh Week.
During a recent orientation event, first-year UBC students from the Sauder School of Business were called out by their peers for chanting a deplorable salute to the rape of underage girls. It goes like this: “Y-O-U-N-G at UBC, we like ‘em young, Y is for your sister, O is for oh so tight, U is for underage, N is for no consent, G is for go to jail.”
Fortunately, a handful of UBC students themselves have led the public outrage over the incident. Unfortunately, the chant has been part of Frosh Week customs for 20 years.
The double standard between young men and women is prevalent even by casual observations on the street, whether it’s so-called “slutshaming” or a sexualized consumer culture targeting girls at prepubescent ages.
The objectification of women cannot be tolerated to flourish in young minds. But it does. According to the Justice Institute of British Columbia, dating violence affects between 25 and 50 per cent of teen girls. The good news is, according to Statistics Canada, the overall rate of sexual violence was down three per cent in 2011. But violence against women still occurs nonetheless. Just ask any of the women we did not interview this week.
The HSWC has 100 pairs of shoes ready for those willing to take a stand on this issue. It will take one hour. If you’re a parent, particularly a parent of boys, bring them down and let them see firsthand that real men wear women’s shoes. Let them witness a show of solidarity for women that will drown out that contemptible chant from UBC.
Day-of registration for Sunday’s walk will open at 10 a.m. in Village Square, with the 45-minute walk to follow at 11 a.m.